By Mark Robins

Construction sites can be very dangerous places. Nearly 6.5 million people go to work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the U.S. each day. On the job, these construction workers face a wide range of occupational safety hazards. It is notoriously dangerous because of the combination of health and safety risks involving vehicles, equipment, and manual tasks, which few other industries share.

According to a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction-related injuries have risen every year since 2007. In 2019 — the last year that reporting information was made available — there were a total of 1,061 fatalities reported in the construction industry. Because of the high rate of workplace fatality, the BLS identified construction as the deadliest occupation compared to all other industries.

The prevalence of work-related injuries among construction personnel requires the correct equipment and solutions to ensure safety. There is a range of construction safety solutions designed to protect construction workers. “The most innovative safety products today are those that are not just comfortable to wear, but also help to address compliance and, ultimately, help keep workers safe from recurring and new safety hazards on worksites,” said Dennis Capizzi, MSA Safety Industrial Marketing Manager, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.

Hard Hats

Hard hats have long been the top choice among workers for head protection. However, job site hazards come in from all directions and include more than an object falling from above. A worker could be knocked off a ladder and fall, or get struck by a piece of material being transported across the site. Because of this, Zach Richman, vice president of product management at Milwaukee Tool, Brookfield, Wisconsin, said, “More and more, hard hats are being replaced by safety helmets. These helmets, derived from the ones used in extreme sports such as rock climbing or even whitewater rafting, attach more closely on the head and having built-in chin straps. Like a hard hat, a safety helmet shields the top of the head, but unlike a standard hard hat, a Type II rated safety helmet could also offer increased protection from side and rear impacts to the head.”

Milwaukee Tools’ new hard hats offer both safety and convenience, which go hand-in-hand. 
Photos courtesy of Milwaukee Tools.

Traditionally, hard hats have made it difficult for workers to equip themselves with tools they need for the job, especially in a rural building environment. For example, protective eyewear or ear protection — or both — might not fit correctly when used with many types of hard hats. Also, this puts the item’s integrity at risk. 

“Milwaukee’s BOLT System allows users to secure accessories to either hard hats or safety helmets simultaneously for a complete head protection solution. Accessories include earmuffs, eye visors, face shields, headlamps, visors, and sunshades,” Richman said. “These new advancements mean crews do not need to trade-off safety for comfort.”

One of the more recent worksite hazards identified by OSHA is heat stress and related illnesses on the job. According to OSHA, heat is the leading cause of death among all weather-related phenomena. 

Due to increasing temperatures, OSHA has implemented a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Outdoor and Indoor Related Hazards, which has been in effect since April 2022. The OSHA NEP on heat stress is aimed at reducing the risk of heat-related illnesses and injuries in outdoor workers. The program emphasizes the importance of helping to prevent heat stress and provides guidance on how to implement effective heat illness prevention programs.

Whether it be in a rural or city environment, it’s difficult to escape the sun’s rays on the job. Released in 2022, Capizzi said MSA Safety’s newest hard hat, the MSA V-Gard C1, is designed to alleviate heat stress for workers in sunny conditions on job sites. “The V-Gard C1, with ReflectIR Thermal Barrier technology, can keep the hard hat interior up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius) cooler, compared to those without ReflectIR. The barrier is applied to the inside of the hard hat and provides benefits similar of a windshield sunshade, by reducing the penetration of the sun’s infrared rays into the hard hat.”


OSHA cites that falls account for the greatest number of fatalities in the construction industry each year. These falls may occur due to unstable work surfaces, the misuse or failure to use fall protection equipment and human error. In May 2023, OSHA introduced a NEP focused on fall protection across all industries, recognizing that falls can occur anywhere. Additionally, OSHA has a pending rule revision that will explicitly require that construction equipment must fit properly. With falls from height continuing to be a leading cause of workplace injury and death, according to OSHA, keeping workers safe from falls remains a priority.

“While the fall protection harnesses can be one part of a fall protection system that can help to keep workers safe, personal fall limiters (PFLs) and self-retracting lifelines (SRLs) are another part of that system that can help with safety,” Capizzi said. “MSA Safety’s V-SERIES line of PFLs and SRLs are designed for simplicity with
easy-to-understand color coding, clearance charts and labels to allow workers to see at a glance safety information about their fall protection system. The innovative V-SERIES line helps to make fall protection selection safer, faster and easier.”

On Top Safety Equipment has a variety of products to help secure ladders and other equipment.

Falls from ladders are serious. Buffalo, New York-based On Top Safety Equipment’s Life Grab Ladder Stabilizer enhances ladder safety. Its adjustable straps and secure attachments offer unmatched stability in a compact design, providing peace of mind for elevated tasks. Workers can secure a ladder against a structure without using unreliable bungee cords reducing the possibility of the bottom kicking out or from sliding due to the transition between the two. A variety of attachment devices, including sturdy hooks, secure the ladder. Whether it’s a roof, tree, or any other fixed object, it keeps the ladder firmly in place, keeping workers safe with anchor points designed to fit most ladders.

Werner Ladder has introduced several new product introductions for the rural building audience including ladders, fall protection equipment, and ladder accessories. These new products include:

Werner LeanSafe Ladders securely lean against flat surfaces or studs. Photo courtesy of Werner.

Extension Ladder WalkThru Series: It attaches to most Werner extension ladders (Type II to Special Duty IAA) to provide a safe and smooth transition on and off of roofs or elevated platforms. It allows a user to step directly from the ladder onto a roof, without stepping out to the side.

D-Ring Permanent Roof Anchor A220330: The Single D-ring permanent roof anchor is designed for use in both new construction and repair work. When installed during construction, this Werner anchor can be used as part of a full fall arrest system to safely perform future repair or maintenance work.

6308 Fiberglass Step Ladder 6308: This type IAA ladder with fiberglass rails is perfect for electrical work, and also comes with an enhanced LOCKTOP Ladder Cap for maximum storage capacity to hold a contractor’s most used tools. There’s a slot specifically for impact drivers, a metal plate to hold magnetic tools like flashlights and 3-anchor points to safely tether hand tools.

Ridgeline Safety Systems has a fall-prevention device (featured on this month’s cover) called the Ridgeline Safety Anchor that owner Todd Meinhold called an “anchor system is a permanent roof anchor that fits under the ridge cap and under the metal. Used for both residential and commercial, it allows anyone who needs to be on a roof a place to tie off.” 

Ridgeline’s Safety Anchor has variations for all roof types and is virtually invisible while providing a tie-off point for life.

A “hidden anchor version” is available for steel slopes of 6/12 and up. There are versions of the product for virtually every roof type. The basic idea is that using two main components — anchors and ridge hooks — you can create a permanent tie off point on the ridge, usable during construction or later, and virtually undetectable from the ground. It also doesn’t create any additional holes in the roof.

Sure Footing

Construction sites can sometimes become a maze of equipment, debris, dirt and more. Navigating around a busy site — even when using caution — can cause workers to slip and trip. Working in a rural environment is indeed a slippery situation but there are new safety solutions on the market that didn’t exist 40 years ago to remedy this. Elk Rapids, Michigan-based SteelGrip SAMM Inc. developed what its CEO/President Neil Warner called the most innovative new product on the market today: the SAMM mat, SteelGrip SAMM’s Safety Assist Magnetic Mat for walking and working on steel roofing. “This high-tech, high performance safety mat is lightweight and easy to use. It provides secure footing while holding tools and equipment within reach while protecting finished surfaces. It increases productivity and saves time thus increasing profits. It has multiple uses such as chimney cleaning, power washing, debris removal, roof repair, window washing, painting, antenna and solar panel installation. It can be used on heavy equipment, water towers, fishing trawlers and steel decking.”

The Pitch Hopper in action.
Photo courtesy of The Pitch Hopper.

Warner cited another new and innovative safety solution from Highland, Michigan-based The Pitch Hopper. Named after the company that invented it, The Pitch Hopper allows roofers to stand on a nearly vertical wall, and will function as a temporary working surface to increase productivity and safety. It provides a level working surface on any pitch from a 9/12 up to a 12/12. Weighing 6 pounds this ergonomically designed roofing tool sticks on the roof by simply tossing it on the asphalt shingles, giving roofers a better grip. It will support not only a roofer’s weight, but the force of jumping up on, or even dropping 70 pounds of shingles on it. With its superior grip surface, the pitch hopper creates a stable surface without any roofing nails or attachments.

Personal Rescue Devices

Werner LeanSafe Ladders securely lean against flat surfaces or studs. Photo courtesy of Werner.

By nature, rural building sites are generally away from urban centers and cities, and as a result, emergency medical response times to rural construction sites can be lengthy. “Safety managers or constriction site leaders in rural areas can consider adding personal rescue devices (PRDs) for their workers,” Capizzi said. “Many sites may rely on local fire and EMS crews to respond to an emergency, but in rural areas those response times can be lengthy. When faced with a workplace incident, such as a fall or suspension trauma, having additional safety products, like PRDs, available can help add another layer of protection for workers.” RB